Tag Archives: custom

Everything Changes but Guitars? I disagree.


I saw this graphic online through Guitar Fail the other day, & again through Guitar Squid:

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

At first, it made me laugh and think “humph, yeah…” in agreement.  The more I thought about it though… it’s wrong. How is it wrong?

Well as far as concept cars go, it’s a whole different world from everyday-use practical cars.  Nothing has gone all that far from 4 wheels, 2 headlights, gasoline powered.  (Yes, there are hybrids and flex-fuel all over the market… but arguably people don’t like them unless they look like “normal” cars.)  But, this blog isn’t about cars.  I’m sure you knew I was going to talk guitars, because that’s what I do.

There are a ridiculous amounts of varying styles of guitars & guitar innovations out there.  Some of them may not be “reinventing the wheel” exactly, but there is always some great stuff happening, and there has been since the inception of the stringed instrument.  How do you think we got so many varieties?

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

I agree that too many axe-slingers fall into the Stratocaster or Les Paul shape trap.  For years I held a disdain for both shapes… but I come back to them.  Why?  Perhaps they’re good designs.  Perhaps they’re iconic.  Perhaps they sound incredible.  Perhaps they work.  There are many other options out there.  If you find yourself chuckling to and agreeing with this graphic, I challenge you to help me to add to my list of innovative guitars.

Any fans of the Guitarz Blog, Tone Fiend, Guitar WTF?, or gUitarREN should be into this.  (Any cool guitar blogs I’m missing?)

Let’s talk about how the guitar is ever-evolving… Shape, materials, string count, innovation, & general insanity.

Indy Custom - Flycaster (Tele-V) Telecaster Flying V Hybrid

Indy Custom Flycaster (or Tele-V?)

There are lots of shapes out there past the Stratocaster or Les Paul, whether it’s somewhat normal or custom insanity.  There’s the SG, the Telecaster, V’s (Flying, Jackson & more), hollowbodies like the Artcore or Gretsch models, the Explorer, the Ravelle, all the crazy B.C. Rich shapes, the Airline, even the Flycaster.  Are there really not enough guitar design shapes out there to satisfy you?  The Stratocaster doesn’t need to change shape, because there are plenty of other options out there!  I’m barely hitting the tip of the iceberg here.  I didn’t even touch on my B.B. Stone, FlipOut, or Batman axes.  How many distinct guitar shapes can you name in the comments?  (Actual produced shapes, not one-offs!)  Bonus for posting or linking to photos.

There’s also material.  Certainly guitars are mostly made of all types of wood, but there’s also plastic, graphite, Res-O-Glass (fiberglass), the Lucite / plexiglass / acrylic transparent guitars, aluminum necks, and so much more.

Once we get past the plethora of guitar makes, models, & shapes available… there are so many other innovations.  Some are great, some not-so great.  Just off the top of my head I can think of:  Synthesizer & MIDI Guitars, Fretlights, 7/8/12 strings, double neck guitars, the chord buddy, the Coral Sitar, built-in-wireless, the robot guitar, 3D printed guitars, Evertune… but none of them have really busted the mold (yet).  They’re all niche stuff.  This doesn’t even get into the many styles of bridges, tuners, tremolos, locks, and other parts that have been refined… or wiring.  You can get CRAZY with wiring.

World's Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh, PA)

World’s Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center – Pittsburgh, PA (Photo Credit: Kara / @ohidontthinkso)

The traveling guitar exhibit is at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh right now.  I can’t wait to check it out.  It’s got the world’s largest playable guitar.  I was lucky enough to get a preview the other day via Twitter.  Tell me that’s not an innovation?  It will no doubt inspire many to pick up the guitar, or dust off the one they already have.  The entire exhibit displays guitars, how they work, their history, & all kinds of fun interaction.

So, next time you think that the guitar has become stagnant, I ask you to go get your hands one one of the many non Strat options above… or even a non-standard Strat option… like a Fat Strat, hot-rodded wiring, or a backwards one.  There are plenty of different, innovative, and goofy guitars out there.  Rock out on something original!

So, now what? (Customizing my New York Pro, finally.)


So, this past weekend, I finally got a chance to work on customizing my New York Pro, I thought I’d get a bunch of it done all at one time.  Well, I hit a roadblock or two as I was taking it all apart.  (Of course.)

I already got some great advice via Facebook, but thought I’d try & chronicle everything here.

It doesn't fit...

It doesn’t fit…

Once I got my work bench set up on the basement, taking everything apart was quite easy.  I just took out all the hardware, and when I went to line up the new pickguard, it didn’t fit. It’s really close, but it doesn’t fit.  I’m going to have to file or cut or sand or Dremel or some combination of all of the above.

It's not the same...

It’s not the same…

The holes in the pickguard aren’t going to lineup with the screws, either.  I’m going to have to maybe 2-sided tape it in place to mark all the holes once I get it cut right.  I have no experience taking apart guitars, but it’s odd that the neck doesn’t fit “perfectly” into the body.  There’s a weird gap there.  It’s also easy to tell (now) that the old pickguard has been cut.  There are some other spots where it doesn’t quite line up.  I hope I don’t have to route anything out where the pickups go.  I got them all from the same place, so I hope not.

Also, I thought I was taking the neck plate off… but it wasn’t having it:

That's supposed to come off when you take the screws out...

That’s supposed to come off when you take the screws out…

Help?

Help?

It’s stuck.  I feel like it’s glued on or was put on before the stain dried?  I bought all black hardware, including a neck plate.  Should I try to get this one off, or just let it go?  I even tried to pop it off using  a screwdriver through the 5th larger hole… all to no avail.

Any advice on that one?

If you’re interested in checking out my progress, take a look at the Photobucket album that’s my attempt to chronicle the whole thing.  (Or, sit through this slideshow…)

Goofy Little 9V Amplifier Project…


I have a Fender Mini Twin MT-10 9V amp that I recently dug out of a box in the basement. Obviously I don’t use it much. It’s the one in a plastic enclosure, and it sounds like… it’s in a plastic enclosure. The battery compartment cover has decided to move on to better things.  My little Smokey Amp kicks its butt where 9V rocking is concerned, and it drives a cabinet if you wanna get really crazy.

Fender Mini-Twin '57 & MT-10

I have the boring MT-10 on the right in the incredibly awesome sounding high-quality black plastic enclosure.

Artistic Amplification | Duck Guitar Amp ($125.00)

If it looks like a duck, and sounds like a cat getting its tail pulled, it must be a... guitar amplifier?

One of the clamps inside that was supposed to hold the speaker busted off of the plastic enclosure anyway, so it was all in there rattling around.

I have been a fan of the stuff that the dude from Artistic Amplification is doing for a while.  The other day I got the brainstorm to turn my Mini-Twin into something like that dude does.  He uses the Ruby circuit from Runoof Groove, but I already have guts to a perfectly good amp.

9-Volt Battery Connector

9V me!

All I need is one of those 9V battery connector things (the amp has a stupid box w/ prongs), a fun shell, maybe some longer wires, a drill, some time and I’m good to go.  Even my level of poor soldering skills should work for this venture.

I was thinking something neat and goofy like a skull model or a Darth Vader helmet would be cool…

Vader Mask / Skull Model

These would certainly make badass little novelty amps.

I could possibly route out the eyes of the skull for the Twin Speaker placement.  Was thinking the same with with Darth Vader’s eyes, or even mount them in the mouth-piece.  Somehow I could maybe even work in that control panel…  If the speaker was in the mouth, I could make the eyeballs light up or something even crazier.  I can even use the integrated AC adapter, but I have read online that sometimes they produce an additional unwanted hum.

Then again, I thought trolling an antique store or two for an old box or transistor radio or crazy piece of kitsch would be kind of fun.  I might come across something that hits me as the perfect vessel for the Frankentwin.  (And a wooden box or old leather-covered transistor might sound better than yet another plastic enclosure.)

Fender Mini-Twin MT-10

HELP ME!

I pulled the amp apart with ease… I’m sort of stuck with the knobs.  They’re not coming off with a gentle pull, and while other goofy replacements might be fun, I don’t really want to bust these (or the circuit board inside) yet.  I guess I’m going to have to try to get something thin in behind them to pull them off.

The world of cigar-box guitar & amp building & case-mod type hacks is neat.  There are a ton of mini/travel amps out there, why not make one that’s all mine?  (Check out this coffin-shaped mini amp, this one from a mint container & this cracker-box amp!)

I’m asking you the reader if you have any tips, tricks, advice, suggestions, etc.  Have you done this before?  Have you seen anything similar?  Have you ever had the urge to build your own amp?  Would you buy one if I learned how to make a circuit & started making/selling weird stuff?  (Provided it sounded cool?)

Tom Bingham Vinyl Record Guitar


This is a killer axe.  I’d love to attempt a build like this.  The only problem is that I have no skills.  I guess I have to try a build in order to gain the skills.  Watch the videos where Tom makes it looks incredibly easy.

Tom Bingham | Vinyl Record Guitar

Tom Bingham | Vinyl Record Guitar

Check out some still photos here:  Guitar List | Tom Bingham Vinyl Record Guitar

This rocks too:

In fact, dude has a TON of cool guitars made, like a chess board one, a cricket bat one, a Millennium Falcon one, and more …

That cigar-box doubleneck is badass.

Mr. Bingham appears to make these for fun & the sake of art.  The only official online presence is his YouTube channel: MrSambollet

Validate my goofy guitar habit?


So, not too long ago, I submitted some photos of my favorite toys to the Tone Fiend blog’s Mutant Beauty Pageant.  If you’d like to follow the saga at the Tone Fiend blog, check these posts out:

You can pick your 3 favorites, and list them in the comments here: Mutant Beauty Pageant: Choose the “Winner!” You can also email your votes if you’d like them to be anonymous.  Of course, your 3 favorites could be for all 3 of my guitars, but… I do encourage you to vote for your actual favorites.

No prize was apparent at the time of my entry, but now I see a nifty little custom-built Uglyface stompbox is being offered up as booty.  I certainly wouldn’t mind playing around with the little thing.  At any rate, it was cool that people got to show off their weird guitars, and we can all share in our inherent oddness.

Mutant Beauty Pageant: Choose the “Winner!”

Mutant Beauty Pageant: Choose the “Winner!”

Tone Fiend | Mutant Beauty Pageant


Cerberus the Turkey

Cerberus, the Darkmeat Knight

So, I entered 3 of my goofy beauties into the “Mutant Beauty Pageant” in Joe Gore‘s Tone Fiend blog at the Seymour Duncan website.  I have had people tell me they’re ugly, I have had people that dig them.  I’m just glad that we live in a world with so many available options.  Guitar beauty (& awesomeness) is subjective, after all.

You can check out the entries so far by clicking the triple-headed turkey, and you can also read the original rules post.  When you’re done with that, enter your weird guitar!  Yeah, it’s got to be yours… not something you just found on the internet somewhere.

I’m really diggin’ Dr. Soda’s “calm like a bomb” Explorer custom …thing.  I’d love to see some more photos.  Is that circuit board 3D?  I can imagine ripping my hand open on that… but then again, that would be one hell of a show.

Also, you’ll notice that Mr. Gore used my Batman guitar in the photo with the tri-topped turkey that I have dubbed “Cerberus, the Darkmeat Knight”.  How cool is that?  Funny part is, I just got a Seymour Duncan Distortion Humbucker to drop into it.

I want a Turner’s guitar…


Turner's Premium Iced Tea

So many delicious options.

I grew up loving Turner’s tea.  It was the thing that I bought nearly every time I went to the general store by my house.  In fact, I can probably say every time, without the “nearly”.  There was always Turner’s in the ‘fridge when I was growing up.  It’s still the drink of choice at family get-togethers.  The other night, we had a pizza delivered from A’Pizza Badamo, and I had them bring a gallon of Turner’s with the pizza & sub.

I have blogged about Turner’s before. I even wrote to them when I was much younger, asking what the “secret ingredient” was in their tea that made it so addictive.  They wrote back.  I didn’t get an answer but I did get a sweet Turner’s T-shirt (Tea-Shirt?), and a label from one of the little jugs to stick on my guitar case.  I’ve written to Giant Eagle and Market District multiple times asking them to carry Turner’s products.  I get the Moos-letter.

Turner's Tattoo

Turner

I’m not quite as hardcore as the guy who got a Turner’s tattoo, I guess.  But, I think we have successfully established that I enjoy Turner’s quite a bit.

So, do you think I can get Turner’s to endorse an Iced Tea themed guitar?  Honestly, I was just thinking to myself that I’d like a guitar that’s painted like a Turner’s iced tea carton.  It looks cool on that guy’s arm, and looks really cool on the Tea-Bird, makes a rockin’ T-shirt… so why not on a guitar?

The TeaBird is just awesome.

The Turner's Tea-Bird

The Turner's Tea-Bird

I voiced my opinion via Twitter…

And on Facebook…

Seeing a Turner's Guitar Would Make Me Thirsty for Turner's!

Yhe people have spoken: Seeing a Turner's guitar would make them thirsty for Turner's!

(I had cut up a half gallon carton a long time ago to scan, render sort-of blank, and make a show flyer.  More evidence of my affinity for Turner’s?)

And got this reply on Twitter…

Hmm.  Possible encouragement?  Perhaps.  Who wouldn’t like one that had a tank to a backpack… like a camelbak that shot iced tea at the crowd.  Or, I could just get a beer helmet & drink Turner’s myself while on stage.

At any rate, I used KISEKAE Virtual Image Modeling System (one of the most fun online toys ever) to hastily throw together some designs:

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Yes.  They’re ugly.  But, the colors are awesome.  Why the Les Paul shape?  Well, I have a perfectly good Epiphone that I hardly ever play… and it’s got a big chip out of the paint anyway.  It needs repainted… why not stripped & done up like this?

Well, sort of like that.  I’d like to take apart the different elements & move them around…  Maybe even get a scan of a gallon jug label or little jug label.  A tea-colored guitar with that little label in the corner might be cool.  If money were no object… I’d go for a jug or carton shaped guitar… or maybe even a Telecaster-type kit guitar that could be called the (wait for it…) Tea-Caster.  Well if money were really no object, I might even try out an Evertune bridge.

People get sponsored all the time, right?  Why not me?  Can’t hurt to ask, right?  I figured I’d present my case here, then fire off an email to Turner’s, hit them up  on Facebook, Twitter (beware the imposter!), or wherever else I can… and ask if they’d be interested in helping me fund a Turner’s guitar.  Maybe I can just cover my LP in some Turner’s stickers then throw a clear-coat over it?  Ha ha.  That’s a lot of stickers…

The next step is to find someone that does this type of work around here.  Is there a guitar “body shop” anywhere that would tackle a custom paint job like this (& do a good job)?  Any business or artist that may know what they’re doing?

Then, it’s time to get serious with design.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?  Please, submit some pictures of ideas!  At the very least, describe ‘em!  What do you think?  Would a Turner’s guitar be fun?  I need something goofy to match the square guitar & the backwards guitar, right?

PA Dutch Country Attractions


So, I already blogged bout my plan for Amish country, here’s what we did while we were there…

The Downtown Lancaster Visitor Center, the Heritage Center Museum, & the print shop upstairs by the .918 Club.  – Yeah, all of this was in one building.  The visitor center was my first stop because I had a decent dialog going before our arrival in the area with Henry at the center, and whoever is behind the goLancasterPA Twitter account. I wanted to say hello & give a personal thanks.

I printed this...

I printed this...

After a quick hello, we went on to the Heritage Center Museum for some cool Amish artifacts & hands-on toys, a quick history lesson, and a bunch of other area artifacts like some beautiful paintings, clocks, furniture, & more.

Upstairs in the print shop, we got an all-out printing demonstration from Mike Donnelly.  I’ve always found that kind of stuff interesting from printing & graphic design to the art of fonts & printing.  It was an unexpected surprise & it was right up my alley!  I even got to make a few small prints on some antique presses!

Angry Young & Poor – Yeah, not exactly in with the theme of everything else, but I used to order from this place back when paper ‘zines & catalogs were a thing… so I had to stop since I was in the area.  Dude behind the counter seemed cool, and I picked up a Sloppy Seconds CD.

HAven not Oven

HAven not Oven

The Dutch Haven – This was a store that looks like a windmill. While there, I bought some Amish root beer & tried a sample of shoo-fly pie.  It felt like a toruist-trap boardwalk kind of store, but you’ll have that in tourist areas.  They seemed rather nice.  Also, we learned that you need to go here before Jakey’s Amish BBQ, and you’ll get a %10 off coupon.

yuk yuk yuk
yuk yuk yuk

The Outhouse – It was a like a Cracker Barrel store & a Spencer’s crashed into each other.  It was full of local stuff, goofy stuff, kitch, and a bunch of silly coin-operated jokes.  Fun, but once we saw it, we don’t really ever have a need to go back.

Ed’s Buggy Rides – I had an amusing online exchange with Ed … or someone at Ed’s Buggy Rides.  It went sort of like this…

Ed's Buggy Rides

Ed's Buggy Rides

From: Me
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2011
Subject: Prices?
Hello,
My wife & I are planning to be in the Lancaster/Strasburg area this weekend celebrating our anniversary.
I was wondering what your rates are for buggy rides?
Thanks,
-Eric

Simple enough right? (I mean, a website ought to list that sort of thing, but…)

From: Mrs Brenda Littler <klittler@verizon.net>
To: Me
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Subject: Re: Prices?

Please call 717-687-0360.

Pimpin' Amish Buggy

Pimpin' Amish Buggy

Heh.  Don’t email info@edsbuggyrides.com, just call ‘em I guess.  The tour did prove to be awesome though.  We took the tour with another couple, and our driver/guide was quite knowledgeable about the Amish history & way of life.  He was able to easily answer any questions that we had.  We also stopped at a working Amish farm where I had a glass of homemade Amish root beer, and Bethany bought a Quillow from the craziest salesman ever, a 13 or 14 year old Amish girl.  We weren’t getting out of there without buying something.  She was showing us every quilt, wall hanging, toy, and canned good in the place.  I wish I could have taken her picture.  For having a seemingly communal/communist lifestyle (from each according to his means, to each according to his needs - right?), this girl was a killer capitalist!  (Oh yeah, that was J & B Quilts and Crafts – they’re at 157 N. Star Rd., Ronks, PA 17572)

Stop.  Yell.  Ing.

Stop. Yell. Ing.

The Amish Village – The Amish village was a tourist trap, but it was a cool visit.  The. Kid. Who. Gave. Us. The. Tour. Yelled. Syllables. Instead. Of. Speaking. Normally.  He also wasn’t very good with Amish trivia or history.  He said some stuff that contradicted the heritage museum, and other things that I’ve read.  He also didn’t answer questions very well, or talk about the Amish men’s clothing or the significance of their hats – which our guide on Ed’s Buggy Rides had already told us about.   He talked a lot about the dresses though, and knew a lot about them.  Did you know the outer part of an Amish woman’s dress is pinned on with straight pins?  Dude knew.  He also assured is that the pins don’t jab you, and you get used to it after the first few times.  Yeah.  If I were the owner, I’d make sure dude wasn’t in there trying on the dresses at night.

After the upstairs bedroom tour, a woman asked about the hats… he said there was no significance where our earlier guide told us about the distinction with the rounded vs. flat indicating if the wearer has children.  Then again, downstairs… a man asked about why they use animals in the field… the tour guide went on a tangent about rubber taking them too far away from home… where from what I understand they use horses to ensure that everyone tills a fair amount of land.

It was cool to see a mockup of a typical Amish house, and learn about their extensive use of propane in lieu of electricity for things like lighting, refrigeration, heat, and running things like retrofitted electric mixers.

The Hangover Part II – OK, we were out of town and decided to just relax and catch a goofy movie.  The Garmin found us a local theater, we went, we laughed our behinds off.  I’m guessing the Amish would not appreciate or even understand 99% of this film.

First Class!

First Class!

475

475

The Strasburg Railroad – We took a first class ride on this train and it was just awesome.  It’s the first time that either of us was ever on a train.  (Unless you count the T.)  It was fascinating just to see & feel how it worked.  This history behind the railroad in general is quite interesting.  We sipped drinks & took photos while the train chugged along and we listened to a narrative about the countryside & the railroad itself.  I would say this is a must for anyone going to the area.  Next time we may hit up the railroad museum across the street, or the toy train museum.  Also, next time, we’d like to ditch the Super 8 in favor of the Red Caboose Motel!  This was a relaxing way to spend part of the day, & there was plenty there to entertain us for a while.  Next time, we may do the picnic lunch where they drop you off for a picnic in a great little picnic area, then you ride back on a different train.

Choo-Choo!

Choo-Choo!

The Choo Choo Barn – The other area train attraction that we did go see was the Choo Choo Barn.  This was a model train display with amazing attention to detail, it reminded me of the one here in Penn Hills that they do around Christmas. There was a fire scene were a house “caught fire”, complete with smoke, every 15 minutes… then a little firefighter popped out with a hose and put the fire out with real water.  I mean, it was crazy.  I wish I had better photography skills to catch all the crazy stuff in there with the odd lighting & night scenes.

Attention to detail.

Attention to detail.

One photo I did manage to get though, was a blurry one… but proof of a man taking a pee in the top floor of one of the train stations.  You know the guy laughed for hours after putting that one in.

All in all, we had a wonderful weekend in PA Dutch Country, and it was an excellent way to celebrate our 3rd anniversary.  We liked it so much that we hope to make it a regular trip!  We’ll never run out of things to do over that way.  I could spend all day taking buggy & train rides!

You can check out all the photos from out adventure here… from my Nikon D60, Bethany’s Fuji Finepix Z, and both of our phones:  Grid View / Slideshow View

Bethany in the garden outside the Sotlzfus Farm Restaurant

:D

The next blog will be about the food.  I had to break it down.  This post is already incredibly long!